Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spent almost £500million during his two and a half years at the helm of Manchester United.
The former Red Devils’ striker was sacked in November after a humiliating 4-1 away defeat to relegation battling Watford. He was soon replaced by Ralf Rangnick who has also been experiencing his own issues with the current crop of players at United.
But a significant number of players at his disposal were all bought and signed by Solskjaer during his rollercoaster reign at Old Trafford. Mirror Football considers all 14 of them that Solskjaer brought through the door and where they are now.
Dan James’ £16m arrival from Swansea appeared to signify a change of approach when it came to transfers at Old Trafford. However, Sancho and Ronaldo’s arrival resulted in the Welsh wing wizard being sold to Leeds United for £26m.
James contributed nine goals in 74 United appearances before he was coaxed to the Yorkshire side by Marcelo Bielsa. New Leeds boss Jesse Marsch appears to rank the 24-year-old highly, deploying him for the full 90 minutes in his first four matches at the club.
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After a strong first two seasons at United, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was labelled as the ‘best one-on-one defender’ in world football by Jamie Carragher. However, the £54m man from Crystal Palace has struggled with United’s more forward thinking approaches under Solskjaer and Rangnick.
The Englishman used to be undroppable at United, but a series of poor performances, coupled with Rangnick’s preference for attacking full-backs, has resulted in Wan-Bissaka being regularly dropped for Diogo Dalot.
Manchester United paid a whopping £80m to make Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in football history. After a strong first season, Maguire was given the United captaincy by Solskjaer and he has worn it ever since.
Unfortunately, his enormous price tag, the United arm band, and a series of high profile mistakes has seen him fall into the firing line of United supporters’ scorn and criticism. Despute his struggles, he will likely remain at the heart of United’s defence for their remaining fixtures.
While he has stagnated this season, Fernandes has not only been United’s best signing under Solskjaer, but one of United’s best in the Premier League era. Despite not being at his mercurial best, Fernandes has still contributed nine goals and 14 assists in all competitions for the Reds.
He remains a vital source of goals, assists, and creativity for a United side that has struggled in all three areas this season. Unless there is a spectacular collapse in the next couple of seasons, his £47.5m arrival from Sporting Lisbon will appear to be a bargain.
Odion Ighalo’s arrival on loan in the 2019-20 transfer window seemed to catch everybody by surprise. However, the Nigerian forward also surprised many with his performances for the Reds.
He contributed five goals in 23 appearances in all competitions for United. Considering the now Al Hilal forward only started five of those matches, Ighalo’s arrival into the club could perhaps be classed as a minor success.
Donny van de Beek
Donny van de Beek’s £35m arrival from Ajax is arguably the most perplexing arrival of Solskjaer’s reign. He arrived at a time when Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were starring for the Reds in the advanced midfield role.
After failing to win a place under Rangnick and Solskjaer, van de Beek was sent on loan to Everton in the January transfer window. He is currently front and centre of Frank Lampard’s midfield, which is currently locked in a tense battle to avoid relegation.
United paid around £8m to sign Pellestri from Uruguayan giants Penarol. However, the South American is currently seven months into his second loan spell at Spanish side Alaves.
Unfortunately, things have not been much better for the 20-year-old right winger as Alaves are currently locked in a battle to stay in La Liga. He has also fallen out of favour at the club, with his last start coming in a 1-1 home draw against Getafe on the 11 th December.
Alex Telles has provided extremely stiff competition for Luke Shaw on the left-side of United’s defence this season. The Brazilian arrived from Porto on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2020.
Rangnick’s arrival opened up a host of opportunities for the Brazilian, who has since started nine out of United’s last 15 Premier League matches. He will likely be deployed bybRangnick after the international break as he also started ahead of the England international in the Reds last three league fixtures.
The free transfer of Edinson Cavani was arguably the most prudent bit of business Solskjaer did at United. Cavani contributed a very impressive 17 goals and six assists in all competitions for the Reds in his debut campaign.
However, Ronaldo’s arrival resulted in him losing his No.7 shirt and his starting place as Cavani has only started six Premier League matches all season. He will likely have to be content with a place on the bench as United will rely on Ronaldo to fire them into fourth position.
Amad arrived into Old Trafford with a reputation suggesting he was one of the hottest properties in European football. Unfortunately, he has had minimal opportunity to shine at Old Trafford, and was subsequently shipped to Rangers on loan.
After a bright start to life under Giovanni Van-Bronckhorst, Amad has only contributed one goal in six appearances for the Scottish giants. At 19-years-old, the Ivory Coast international still has time, but improvement is certainly needed.
Tom Heaton returned to his boyhood club on a free transfer in the previous summer transfer window to solidify United’s goalkeeping situation. But as expected he has rarely featured for the Red Devils.
His only appearance came in United’s dead rubber contest against Young Boys where he was given a 22-minute cameo by Rangnick. He has never come close to challenging David de Gea and Dean Henderson for the United No.1 position, meaning he will likely remain on the United bench until the end of the season.
After multiple attempts, Solskjaer and former United chief Ed Woodward finally signed Jadon Sancho for £73m. But while Sancho did not show anything close to his best form under Solskjaer, he is finishing the season strongly with two goals and three assists in his last six Premier League fixtures.
The former Borussia Dortmund man looks to have finally won Rangnick’s trust ever since he was shifted to the left-hand side of United’s attack. Sancho could be crucial to the Reds if they still aspire to qualify for the Champions League.
Raphael Varane’s arrival from Real Madrid was hailed as a game changer for United who had long chased a central defence partner for Harry Maguire. While the Frenchman’s performances have not exactly been terrible, United’s defence has left plenty to be desired throughout the whole campaign.
While he has probably performed the best out of United’s central defenders this season, his performances have not lived up to the stellar benchmarks he set while at Real Madrid. Nevertheless, he will likely remain a firm part of United’s hopes to break into the top four.
The most significant transfer of Solskjaer’s reign, and perhaps the most in the last decade for the Reds. Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford from Juventus was touted as a tipping point which could see the Reds become firm contenders for the Premier League title.
But despite his 12 Premier League goals and three assists, United have experienced a terrifying plunge in form which has seen them go from title contenders to mere outsiders for the top four. Lots of responsibility will be on Ronaldo’s shoulders in the later stages of the campaign.